An American Icon

            The bald eagle is a symbol of freedom that resonates through the population of our country.  It represents many of the foundations of our nation: strength, beauty, and the ability to overcome.  The beautiful bird is also a symbol of our history.  Thankfully, the bird itself is not history. 

            Many years ago the bald eagle was plentiful along our forests and waterways.  However, a loss of habitat and a silent killer nearly wiped out the species for good.  In 1962, an ailing Rachel Carson published a somewhat controversial book called Silent Spring.  The book detailed the scientific connection between the decline in bald eagles and a man-made substance called DDT.  She was the first to publicly question the impact of the substance on the eaglesí reproductive process.  As she outlined, DDT caused the shell of the eaglesí eggs to be produced much thinner than they would be naturally.  Thus, many young eagles were being lost because their shell was unable to protect them until time to hatch out.  As a result of her stance against the chemical industry, DDT was outlawed in America 1972, and the eagles continue to expand their populations.

            According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the bald eagle population in North Carolina in 1982 was exactly zero.  Not one.  Not in the mountains, down by the sea, or in the piedmont.  In 1998, seventeen nesting pairs were known to live within our state.  That number had doubled to 34 by 2000.  Today, several pairs are added almost annually and the total population continues to grow. 

            Montgomery County ís location along the Yadkin-Pee Dee chain of lakes allows it to play a direct role in the recovery of the eagle.  In particular, Iíve spotted eagles flying near the southern line of the county and across the 24/27 corridor near the lake.  Bald eagles are known to spend time around Morrow Mountain State Park , Falls Lake , Tuckertown and High Rock Lake .  In fact, there is even talk that they may some day be delisted from Endangered/Threatened.  If and when that time comes, Ms. Carsonís dream will finally be realized.  Even better, future generations will actually be able to observe the species that shows up on so many of our national symbols.